The Sports Desk – Dissecting The GT Sport Beta
Polyphony Digital is gearing up for the release of GT Sport on PS4 sometime this year, and I was fortunate to play a recent beta of the title, including some multiplayer. I've prepared some videos highlighting a few of the beta's features that may impact the final game.
The beta didn't have a lot of content per se, but I believe the main menu – with tabs listing Campaign, the Scapes photo feature (above), Online, Garage, Brand Central, VR Tour, Arcade, and more – will remain unchanged for the final release.
The focus of the beta is the Sport mode, which will later house the Nations Cup and Manufacturers Fan Cup, and is designed to allow players of different skill levels to compete against each other (more on that below). In the beta, there were three daily races at specific tracks with set perimeters like time of day, car requirement, etc., and within a 24 hr. period you have to put in your best qualifying time. This naturally determines your starting place in the 18-car online multiplayer field once the race window officially opens.
Note: The final product may vary from the details described in this beta. The videos below were taken from the PS4 Share function.
In this video you'll notice, apart from some hair-raising moments tackling this legendary track, that the normal best-line indicator (which also lets you know when you should brake) is different. Instead of the usual real-time line on the track itself, a discrete on-screen brake indicator flashes and green markers denote the entrance, apex, and exit of a turn. I like this better because it's more subtle and lets you know how to best take a corner without making you a slave to following a line. The red flashing "brake" signal is more of a suggestion than telling you the exact moment to brake, and all of these can be turned off.
DAILY WORKOUT PRESENTS
I really liked this track, partly for its beauty and also its two chicanes which you can fly through without hitting the brakes. I did this lap in a Corvette C7 GT.3, which I won for completing a Daily Workout challenge in Sport mode. As the name implies, each day you can get a present car for driving a specific number of miles in the mode. This wasn't a lot during the beta, usually about 20 minutes or so (although who knows what it will be like in the final game). The other cars I received include a BMW M6 GT3 M Power Livery '16 and BMW Z4 GT3 2011.
BTW, for the video above I kept on the ghost car, but you can turn it on/off at anytime by hitting the right side of the big PS4 touchpad.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SPORTSMANSHIP
The game's Sport mode welcomes all drivers, and one of the ways it does this is with its driver and sportsmanship ratings, which the game uses to group racers of similar skill levels. Driver rating goes E, D, C, B, A, and S (from lowest to best), and your sportsmanship rating starts out at 10 at the beginning of the race, and can go as low as 1 and as high as 99. Hitting other cars or a wall, going off the track, and taking illegal shortcuts lowers your rating. If you think sportsmanship doesn't matter; in an informal cup competition at this track I boosted my position in the overall standings simply because I got a decent sportsmanship rating.
Another way Sport mode tries to match racers is through Balance of Performance (BoP). These are modifiers to your car's horsepower, weight, and tires. For instance, a race may let you compete with a certain car, but if it's a BoP race, it'll then automatically adjust that car's HP, weight, and tires to make it competitive with other entrants.
MULTI-FUNCTION DISPLAY AT YOUR FINGERTIPS
If you look down in the lower-righthand corner of the screen, you'll see the traditional scrolling map (there is also a stationary one above it in the upper-righthand corner). But this portion of the HUD, called the multi-function display, can be toggled to show different info. In the video above at the famous Brands Hatch track, I switch through various multi-function features by pressing right/left on the d-pad to access the fuel map, time info, brake balance, and traction control system (TCS). As you can see, some of these can be dialed up/down by hitting the appropriate part of the d-pad. My favorite multi-function option is a radar to see who's in your direct vicinity.
The beta doesn't give access to the actual Scapes photo feature, which allows you to place multiple cars in real-life locations and tweak various visual perimeters. However, the main menu's idle and main screen scrolled through some very beautiful Scapes-like landscapes that are simply breathtaking. Enjoy.
Missed some of the previous Sports Desk entries? Take a look at the past installments via our Hub page by clicking on the banner below.
PRELIMINARY MADDEN 18 FEATURES REVEALED
A recent product listing on GameStop [Full Disclosure: Game Informer is owned by GameStop] has revealed a few features for the upcoming title. These of course, are just a few of the first drippings – AND THIS IS NOT THE FULL FEATURE SET – so there should be plenty more to come. We already know that the game is getting a Story mode similar to FIFA's The Journey (stay around until the end of the trailer), so this is just a taste. For more on the game, check out my Wishlist from last week's Sports Desk.
Target Passing: The description here talks about not being "tied to throwing to your open wide receiver." I'm not sure exactly what they're talking about here, unless they mean you can throw to a specific spot on the field. If this is the case, I'd be curious how the game matches these throws with the series' traditional pass catch animations. Will it produce more magnet catches?
Play Styles: Three styles are listed: Arcade (turns up the big plays and turns down the penalties), Simulation, and Competitive ("Your stick skills are key, earn big rewards for your skill or receive bigger penalties").
Coverage Assignment: This describes a real-time, onscreen indicator that tells you your pass assignment, which sounds like an extension of the pre-snap information. The real question is: Will the game let you shadow a specific receiver?
Coach Assignment: "Customize the A.I. to fit your gameplan and make situational changes to your strategy on the fly as the game demands it." I like the sound of this, and hopefully your players can execute your orders – whatever form that takes – correctly on the field.
Frostbite: The listing mentions stadium exteriors (including cityscapes), fireworks, players running out of the tunnel, and weather. No mention of a Story mode, which has already been alluded to in the game's initial trailer.
Play Now Live: You can play the weekly matchups using the most recent rosters, stats, and custom commentary. This sounds similar to a feature FIFA has had for a few years.
A quick rundown of some of the sports news from the week.
Tom Brady Named Madden NFL 18 Cover Athlete
Dirt 4 Talks To Real-Life Rally Drivers
Gameplay footage included.